The bodies of a mother and her three children were recovered from a Minnesota lake in what authorities are investigating to be a “possible triple murder-suicide.”
Molly Cheng, a 23-year-old tattoo and beauty artist, and her three children, who are all believed to be under the age of 5, were pulled from a lake north of St. Paul during a two-day search that began Friday evening.
Multiple agencies began the search after officials responded to a home in the 1300 block of Pearson, Maplewood, on Friday morning for a reported suicide. They found the body of Kos Lee, the 27-year-old husband of Cheng and the father of the three children.
Investigators revealed that Lee died by suicide in his bedroom while in his pajamas. A family member said that Lee fatally shot himself with a gun that he owned.
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“Forever goodbye my nicest brother,” Lee’s sister reportedly wrote on Facebook. “Why are you making me so mad and sad at the same moment? I’m so sorry that I’m 20 minutes late and cannot help you. I drive so fast to help you and to stop you but I still failed. I’m sorry that I failed you in this life and was late to help you. Only if I was faster then you will be alive.”
Police were able to track the mother’s location through her cellphone. Cheng’s car and the shoes of the children, two boys and a girl, were also found by the lake. State and local police along with fire crews in boats, a dive crew and cadaver dogs searched the lake and its surrounding area.
They recovered the body of one child from the lake at around 7:30 p.m. While lifesaving measures were attempted, the child was pronounced dead at the scene. Authorities found the body of a second child shortly after midnight in the same lake in Vadnais Heights.
The body of the mother was recovered at 10:40 a.m. on Saturday. The third child was found 20 minutes later, according to Mike Martin, undersheriff of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office.
“I will tell you that a number of resources are here,” Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher told reporters on Friday. “There is nothing more tragic than the loss of young children, all of which were apparently under the age of five.”
The tragedy has left the area’s Hmong community in shock and struggling to cope, prompting community leaders to counsel not only the victims’ families but also Hmong families in the Twin Cities.
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The Hmong 18 Council of Minnesota was reportedly formed more than 20 years ago when a Hmong mother killed her children. The Twin Cities is home to the largest concentration of Hmong in America, with more than 66,000 calling Minnesota their home.
“Right now, the community is still in shock mode,” Paul Xiong with the Hmong 18 Council told 5 Eyewitness News. “This would be the second time this happened in the community.”
Chong Lue Lee, the grandfather of Kos Lee, believes his family could have been saved with professional help.
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“We wish there would be 24-hour supervision for the mother and the children because of the father, because of what happened to him,” Lee said. “In a short time, less than three hours, the police release the mother and kids, and then in that three hours, a thing happened to those children. So wouldn’t it be better for there to be 24-hour supervision after such [a] tragedy happened to their loved one?”
If you or anyone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. For a list of international suicide hotlines, click here.
Featured Image via ABC News